Legal Panel to Rehear Netanyahu's Request to Get Loan From U.S. Mogul for Defense Fees

The rehearing follows the appointment of a new state comptroller and the prime minister’s formal indictment in three corruption cases

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Jan. 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Jan. 2020.Credit: Emil Salman
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it will reconsider its decision denying him permission to accept funds from Michigan businessman Spencer Partrich to help the prime minister fund his legal defense in the three criminal cases he has been charged in.

The announcement followed Netanyahu’s fourth request to the committee for permission to have Partrich help him meet his legal expenses.

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Netanyahu was formally indicted last month in the Jerusalem District Court in three corruption cases, in which he has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. – allegations he denies. The prime minster also claims that now that charges have been filed against him, he anticipates incurring major legal expenses to mount his defense.

In June, the committee rejected Netanyahu’s request for the third time, after giving him a 30-day extension to provide answers to questions that the panel had posed, along with a request for financial statements and clarifications regarding his ties to Partrich. The prime minister did not comply with the request.

State Comptroller Matanyahu EnglmanCredit: Ilan Assayag

Since then, a new state comptroller, Matanyahu Englman, has taken office. Englman has changed the permits composition of the committee, which is now mostly made up of people without a legal background. But Englman said Netanyahu’s fourth request for permission will be heard by two retired judges, Nehama Munitz and Shulamit Dotan, in addition to a member of the Council for Higher Education, Yisrael Tik.

In its request for more information from the prime minister, the prior committee requested details regarding Netanyahu’s assets in Israel and abroad “of any kind and without exception, including cash, bonds, real estate, etc.” It also asked for detailed information on the nature of his ties with Partrich, what he owes and has paid his lawyers and why he needed outside assistance to fund his legal defense.

In September, Englman bypassed the committee and gave the prime minister permission to borrow two million shekels ($580,000) from Partrich, unlike his pending request for a grant. The loan was to be made at market interest rates.

Englman explained that his predecessor as state comptroller, Joseph Shapira, had given Netanyahu permission in principle to obtain a loan from Partrich if it was made at prevailing market terms and if the prime minister came to an agreement on any conflicts of interest.

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